New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
Friday, January 6, 2017

Cathleen D. Bennett

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Department of Health Begins Mailing Adoptee Birth Records After Holiday Mail Delay

More than 1,200 adoptees filed applications

Today, the Department of Health has begun mailing copies of birth certificates to adoptees who requested records under New Jersey’s new adoption law.

The new law allowed birth parents to submit redaction requests and omit personal identifying information such as their names and addresses from birth certificates of child(ren) they placed for adoption up until Dec. 31, 2016.

Until Jan. 1, 2017, a court order was required to receive these documents.

There are approximately 300,000 sealed records in a secure room at the Department in Trenton of children who were placed for adoption as far back as 1940. More than 1,200 adult adoptees have filed applications with the Department’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry to obtain copies of their original birth records, and the Department has received more than 500 requests from birth parents for redactions. A careful analysis is involved in searching the sealed birth records and checking them against adoption decrees and redaction requests to ensure the Department provides accurate records while honoring privacy requests of birth parents. Records are being processed in the order applications were received. 

“Given the December 31, 2016 deadline and where it fell in relation to two holiday weekends, mailed applications postmarked by midnight on December 31, 2016 were still arriving earlier this week,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “That catchup period has now ended.” 

In August 2015, the Department began implementing the new adoption law signed by Governor Chris Christie in 2014. The law balanced the rights of adoptees to learn more about their birth parents with the interests of birth parents to maintain their privacy.  There is no deadline for adult adoptees who would like to request copies of their original birth certificates. Birth parents who choose to have their names redacted can reverse that decision at any time and make their identities known.

Those who may request copies of birth certificates are adult adoptees; direct descendants, siblings or spouses of adopted persons; adoptive parents, legal guardians or other legal representatives of adopted persons; or state or federal government agencies for official purposes. Individuals can apply for birth records by filling out this form. The fee is $25 and then $2 for each additional copy.

For more information on the new adoption law, call 609-292-4087 or visit the Department’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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